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July 18th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Pastor handles deadly snakes

(CNN)–CNN's Gary Tuchman takes you inside a snake-handling church in Tennessee.

The death of a Mack Wolford, one of the best known snake handling pastors, put the obscure tradition back in the spotlight in late May.

Death of snake handling preacher shines light on lethal Appalachian tradition

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 10pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Content Partner • Faith Now • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Fizzylift

    Why did CNN put a photo of a non-venomous snake as the lead image? It's a python, flipping harmless. And, snake handlers such be bitten. It's awesome.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!'

      July 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    yeehaw and halleluiah, brothers and sisters! after we dance around with poisonous rattlesnakes, we're gonna have us some music:

    GAWD be praised!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  4. Sam Yaza

    he should have kept reading get to the poison then when he said he believes Christ word pull out the poison and say drink up,... i miss the good old days

    July 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  5. Bobby Bob Bobberson

    Why is this news? Pastors handle their snakes all the time.

    Oh, wait! You mean the reptiles!

    July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  6. Crisis on Finite Moons

    While I don't agree with snake handling...it's nice to see the daily vipers of the comment board coming out to use this story to trash all faiths.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • sam

      Fundies are funny.

      July 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      Religo tards choose to be ignorant...they are fair game

      July 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • take up serpents th eway Jesus spoke of

      I like to come and take up sepents heree as Jesus spoke of..Taking up serpents the way jesus speaks of is simply to expose them as venomous hateful hypocrits who are full of envy .. :) :)

      John the baptists callled theh pharasees vipers to give you a clue Jesus called them serpents and viperfs too and Paul after departing form his venomous campaign after killing Stephen and vonverting turned aroudn in Romans chap 0ne saying they had th epoison of asps under their tongues quoting a vewrse in the Psalms....serpents are mean hateful religious people... that's all.... :) :) :)

      July 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Woody

    "........put the obscure tradition back in the spotlight in late May."

    There are a couple of reasons for the obscurity. Most of the apprentice snake handlers probably never make it to the journeyman level. And even in the buckle of the Bible Belt, common sense sometimes wins out over insanity.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Just like belief, there's not too much to talk about because it's a bunch of malarkey! This blog is rehashing the same old BS, yikes! I guess that's why it's called the belief blog, right?

    July 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • take up serpents th eway Jesus spoke of

      I'm glad they do because the snake handling thing need to be brought out in the light...

      there are scriptures that clearly identify what sserpents Jesus is speakig of in Mark 16..... :) John the baptist called the religious leaders in Israel vipers,,,, Jewsus did too ... so does Paul in Romans chapter 1 saying that they had the poison of asps under their tongut...just mean venomous people who have sour spirit controling religion...

      serpents have g9one unchecked for generations ... cause no one understood what serpents the bibled is talkign about.. !!!! :) :)

      July 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  9. Bootyfunk

    cult members are funny.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  10. Again and again and again and again and again and again

    Based on the extreme amount of recycled stories, CNN's Belief Blog staff has totally run out of ideas.

    They should change the name from the Belief Blog to the Redundant Recycle.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  11. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Stupid is as stupid does. How many of these idiots have to die before they learn that the bible is fiction?

    July 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      "How many of these idiots have to die . . . ?"

      Preferably all of them.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • take up serpents th eway Jesus spoke of

      I can stop them but it would cost a lot fo mney to exp[ose them as mistaken....

      I woould want to expose them all at once and clearly identify who and what the serpents are...

      they ,,,, the serpents today are in lead positions in Churchds who are venomous and hatefull ... due from the lack of satisfaction in their own lives nd careers and intentions .. :) :)

      July 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  12. Darwin

    Evolution is action. Those genes will be less prevalent in future generations.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I was going post something right along those lines.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • ChristianBot

      Didn't you recant on your death bed, or did I just make that up?

      July 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Yes you did make that up. Or one of your xtian buddies. Darwin died an atheist just like Hitchens did.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Beam Me Up, Scotty!

      Yep, that is a lie told by those honest Christians. Because it is okay to lie when you do it for God.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  13. Madtown

    Dear CNN: even Hollywood thinks you recycle the same story lines too many times over.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  14. Scuromondo

    So, in a volume containing dozens of books, as well as thousands of stories, parables, and countless pieces of wisdom, how does one choose a phrase about snakes as the basis for any "Christian" theology–or, for that matter, any considered spiritual philosophy at all? I mean, what makes this passage acquire more significance or convey greater wisdom for this subculture than, for instance, the Golden Rule, or Jesus' command to love one another? From the article, it appears that the practices of this group appear to be more centered on magic, the otherworldly and fantastic, and for all practical purposes 'worshipping' snakes than they do any deity; unless, for these folks, snakes ARE their deity.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  15. HeavenSent

    If he truly follows Jesus's Truth then he ahs nothign to worry about. Jesus will protect him.

    Amen.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I forgot to mention. I like carnal poop.

      Amen

      July 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Fake Alert! Second HeavenSent is a phony

      July 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I suspect it has been written previously but *all* HeavenScents are phonies.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • @HeavenSent

      Do yourself a favor and stop responding to the troll. That's what it wants. Folks have been posting here long enough to know what your posts are like and know it is not you.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Heaven Sent

      I want Jesus to spray his goo all over my face

      July 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Yet another HeavenSent

      July 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Which God??

      HeavenSpooge, that is just flat out wishful thinking on your part, and dangerous to others who would try to emulate such foolishness. Your hey-sus/god can't save anyone/anything. Ramen

      July 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • derp

      @heavendoosh

      Why don't you pray to jeebus to make everyone stop stealing your "handle".

      Prayer does work doesn't it?

      Or is having people steal your "handle" is part of gods plan?

      July 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • just sayin

      It is funny seeing HeavenSent reduced mindless garble. My work is almost done.

      Signed Tom, Tom of CNN

      July 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  16. HotAirAce

    Should we start a lottery on predicting the date of this fool's death?

    July 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      6 months or sooner. We have to factor in he might get hit by a tractor or shot by his hunting buddy.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      or ran over in a Walmart parking lot in the South somewhere

      July 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  17. belief Blog editors meeting

    "Anyone have any ideas for a new article?"

    "How about we just rerun the snake article and then spend the day watching hotel po rn?"

    "That's a great idea!"

    July 18, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      As long as you include something about Mormon politicians. Don't forget the Mormons.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  18. belief Blog editors meeting

    "Anyone have any ideas for a new article?"

    "How about we just rerun the sanke article and then spend the day watching hotel po rn?"

    "Tha's a great idea!"

    July 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  19. llɐq ʎʞɔnq

    It is interesting that these fundies know nothing about their own books. The verses, (with the snake junk), which appear only in the Gospel of Mark, (16 : 9-20 ) were a later addition, ((most scholars agree the original gospel ended with the (far more poetic), empty tomb)). The original last line was preceded by the line (from the Secret Gospel of Mark), with it's somewhat scandalous implication. The verse, (15) also says to preach the gospel to every creature. I'll take the gerbils and squirrels. ;)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mark

    July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      I'll have what he's having.
      http://www.enlightenedredneck.com/2012/05/30/the-death-of-a-snake-handler/

      July 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Speakin in tongues

      who needs scolars when they can have direct contact with God Himself; through the gospel fo Christ ? :)

      I speak in tongues by the Holy Spirit.... BUT THESERPENTS MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE BY JESUS IS the phariasses and priests of the temple which Jesus rebuked as serpents and John the Baptist called vipers .. Paul refersr top them ahaving the poison of asps under their tongues speaking with cursing and bitterness... this is also mentioned in the old testament I forget where will look it up later and present here... so the snake handling is a very wrong doctrine and action...

      sorry appalaitia :) :) :)

      July 18, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      My new discovery. Jeebus was a mushroom cult ??

      July 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  20. ME II

    "The death of a Mack Wolford, one of the best known snake handling pastors, put the obscure tradition back in the spotlight in late May."
    Why not leave back in late may?

    July 18, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Lazy retreading of old stories so people can call each other names in the comments section is the Belief Blog way.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Speakin in tongues

      perhaps they woudl like to bring to light a false doctrien run rampant among the less understanding Christian's among us..

      This is realy a great thing to bring into light so that we can eliminate great deal of wrong thinkn amongst christians .. :) :) :)

      July 18, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • derp

      "This is realy a great thing to bring into light so that we can eliminate great deal of wrong thinkn amongst christians"

      The only way to eliminate wrong thinking in christians would be make them atheists, or give them a lobotomy.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.